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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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Treatment Tips for Occasional Heartburn Sufferers

If you generally have an iron stomach, here’s how to deal with occasional heartburn symptoms.
WebMD Feature

You eat a big meal out, late at night. You indulge in seconds and then thirds, have a few too many glasses of wine or cups of coffee, and then go to bed on a full stomach. Wake up a few hours later, and the pain is screaming upward from your chest into your throat. You groan: Sleep is impossible. You finally roll over, get out of bed, and stumble to the medicine cabinet. What can you do to stop heartburn fast?

What Causes Heartburn Symptoms?

Heartburn symptoms, for the infrequent sufferer, are often triggered by certain foods.

"I always ask people if there's a particular type of food that causes heartburn, like spicy foods, or citric or acidic food," says Tara O'Brien, PharmD, a pharmacy manager at Pharmaca in Seattle, a national, integrative pharmacy combining Western medicine with self-care.

When you eat, a cascade of chemicals is released to digest your food. Certain foods can trigger too much stomach acid, causing heartburn -- that burning, irritated feeling in your upper stomach and chest. And if you eat a big, spicy meal and go to bed full, it's a double whammy. Gravity can't work to move food through your stomach. Your food and stomach acid pool at the base of your esophagus. It's one big heartburn ouch.

Lifestyle Tips to Stop Heartburn

If you only have heartburn symptoms every now and then, you're in luck. Simply cutting out the offending foods, or eating less of them, can often prevent heartburn. And when you need heartburn relief and want it fast, there are plenty of over-the-counter antacids you can try.

Just as people with insomnia have to find new ways to go about sleeping, try new ways to go about eating. Begin by paying attention to when, what, and how much you eat. Use these heartburn prevention tips from the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).

  • Avoid food triggers. Certain foods trigger heartburn, but not always, and not in everyone. Check this list of common food triggers to see if any could be causing your heartburn symptoms:

o Chocolate

o Fried and fatty foods

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